We live in a part of the country that is not normally subject to cyclones or tornadoes, or even extremely severe windstorms. However, there are occasions…as we recently experienced, with winds up to 134 kms. (83 miles) per hour. Funnel clouds were seen in the darkened Western sky but, fortunately, none of them actually ‘touched down.’ Our neighboring City of Edmonton suffered some of the worst of the storm. Hundreds of trees were uprooted, windows shattered, tombstones overturned, lightning and thunder with large hail, and it resulted in “one of the biggest power outages ever.” The storm was officially termed a “gust front” which can “sometimes cause even more damage than a tornado because it can “cast a wider net.”
The following poem by Edwin Markham (1852-1940) has long been a favorite of mine:
At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky
And flinging the clouds and the towers by,
Is a place of central calm;
So here in the roar of mortal things,
I have a place where my spirit sings
In the hollow of God’s palm.
I’ve wondered about the “heart of the cyclone” or “the eye of the storm,” so I did some research to discover what it means. This is, very briefly, what I found:
A Cyclone is a low-pressure area in the atmosphere in which winds spiral inward. It may cover an area half the size of the United States. A special intense kind of cyclone up to 2 miles across is called a Tornado – the most violent of all storms. The winds whirl around the center of the storm in the shape of a funnel at speeds of up to 640 kms (400 miles) per hour! Tornadoes destroy almost everything in their path.
A tropical Cyclone is a severe large, whirling storm that forms near the equator over warm ocean waters. It is called a Hurricane if it forms in the West Indies or the eastern Pacific Ocean, or a Typhoon if it forms in the Western Pacific. Winds swirl around the center, or eye – a calm area in the centre of the storm – at speeds of 121 kms (75 miles) per hour or more. Storm clouds, called wall clouds, surround the eye, which may measure 32 kms (20 miles) in diameter. These bring the strongest winds and the heaviest rain. Hurricanes hit land with tremendous force, bringing huge waves and heavy rain. Thunderstorms often form within hurricanes and produce tornadoes. When a hurricane moves over land, strong winds and heavy rain hit the area for several hours, often causing severe flooding.
In Scripture, God is often associated with the whirlwind, and we are told that God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind.” It is interesting that one translation says “out of the eye of the storm!” When the ‘storms of life’ assail us, we are assured that God is “a refuge from the storm”
( Job 38:1; 40:6; Isa. 25:4)
The poets have found a lovely way of expressing a spiritual parallel to this phenomenon:
Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the HEART OF THE GALE.
For there is a shelter sun lighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God in the EYE OF THE STORM.
The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar,
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore.
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains;
Yet the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the HEART OF THE STORM is the CENTRE OF CALM.
Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light;
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heaven, His love shall make thine.
Let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of your God and the blue of the sky;
The storm is your shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes you for safety within.
The tempest with Him passes into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm;
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form,
God smiles on His child in the EYE OF THE STORM.
“May God, the giver of HOPE
fill you with continual joy and peace because you trust in Him—
so that you may have abundant HOPE
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(Romans 15:13 Weymouth)
In Agape, Eulene